The Effects of Gambling

Gambling is the wagering of something of value (money, property, etc.) on an event whose outcome is determined by chance, where instances of strategy are discounted. Its positive effects are often underestimated; however, gambling also has negative consequences for individuals and communities. In general, the benefits and costs of gambling can be analyzed at three levels: personal, interpersonal and community/society. The personal impacts affect those closest to a gambler, such as family and friends; the interpersonal effects are those that impact others who are not directly involved in gambling (e.g., a gambler’s increased debt can cause financial strain on other family members); and the community/society impacts are those that affect the entire community.

The majority of people who gamble can do so without any problems; seventy-five percent of gamblers find it an enjoyable and entertaining diversion, while 20 percent overindulge to the point that they incur debts and other negative impacts. Most people who get addicted to gambling can overcome their addictions if they seek help and follow treatment recommendations. Behavioral therapy can help them confront their irrational beliefs, such as the belief that a string of losses signals an imminent win. It can also teach them to break their impulsive habits and resist gambling triggers.

While the effects of gambling vary from person to person, many people can enjoy it safely when they play in a regulated environment. In addition, the money that gamblers spend helps to support local economies. Moreover, it can be a great social activity that allows individuals to bond with their friends and family. Many individuals will even plan special gambling trips with their friends and family to places such as casinos that are only a few hours away.

Another reason why gambling is popular is because it offers a sense of excitement and anticipation. This feeling is very similar to the thrill of a rollercoaster ride or a thrilling game of baseball. While there is a risk of losing money, most people will still continue to gamble because they are addicted to the adrenaline rush that it provides.

Longitudinal studies are important to evaluate gambling’s impacts, but they have been difficult to conduct due to a variety of factors, including funding, logistical challenges (e.g., maintaining research teams for a long time period and sample attrition), and the difficulty of separating the effect of a specific behavior from the effect of aging or of a specific period of time). Furthermore, the nature of gambling makes longitudinal studies challenging to conduct: it is based on random events that can’t be easily controlled. Nevertheless, these studies are increasingly becoming more common and sophisticated. The first longitudinal study of gambling was conducted by Dr. Charles Rehn and his colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, in the 1970s. Their study followed gamblers over a six-year period and found that they continued to gamble despite substantial losses. The results of the study were published in the journal “Psychology and Public Policy” in 1980.